Peter takes charge, seeking to return Caspian (and in turn, Narnia) to his rightful place by remembering the way things used to be.
If LWW was rooted in New Testament allegory, then this book is rooted in the Old Testament. The parallels between Caspian and David are hard to miss (the rightful King is forced into exile, pursued by the “wrongful” king, not to mention the combat-by-champion), but furthermore, memory and faith work hand in hand here. The Israelites were frequently called to remember what God had done for their ancestors, and to believe. The Narnians were having trouble with that, so Aslan sent Peter and Edmund as living memories to ensure that those things would not remain forgotten, because Aslan’s goal was never just to reinstate a “good” ruler – he wants to renew the whole land, and knows that unless Caspian has a people that will hold him accountable, he could end up just as bad as Miraz in the long run.
Peter is the “High King over all Kings in Narnia,” so it makes sense that he should select (and acknowledge) the next King – that is, the next King of all Narnia, the Old and the New. Another thing I never noticed before (probably because it’s in the middle of all those big fancy words in Peter’s official challenge) was that Peter intends to “prove upon [Miraz]’s body that the said Caspian is lawful King under us in Narnia both by our gift and the laws of the Telmarines” – a concept of trial by combat in which the guilty party will inevitably be defeated.
Interestingly, the Telmarines seem to be characterized in a more Shakespearean light.
“If the King undertook wager of battle,” whispered Glozelle, “why, either he would kill or be killed.”
“So,” said Sopespian, nodding his head.
“And if he killed we should have won this war.”
“Certainly. And if not?”
“Why, if not, we should be as able to win it without the King’s grace as with him. For I need not tell your Lordship that Miraz is no very great captain. And after that, we should be both victorious and kingless.”
“And it is your meaning, my Lord, that you and I could hold this land quite as conveniently without a King as with one?”
The Telmarines are far more concerned with the present than the past; they’re superstitious, not faithful. They have a good memory for their personal grievances and little else (like Nikabrik, but more self-centered). Of course, Miraz doesn’t care that he’s guilty on all accounts – he doesn’t believe that sort of thing would really impact a fight.
Peter exhibits great consideration for Narnian traditions, even when they might seem silly to some people (like the Bulgy Bears providing a marshal of the lists). And then Reepicheep asks to be named a marshal of the lists, too:
“I am afraid it would not do,” said Peter very gravely. “Some humans are afraid of mice–“
“I had observed it, Sire,” said Reepicheep.
“And it would not be quite fair to Miraz,” Peter continued, “to have in sight anything that might abate the edge of his courage.”
“Your Majesty is the mirror of honor,” said the Mouse with one of his admirable bows. “And on this matter we have but a single mind…I thought I heard someone laughing just now. If anyone present wishes to make me the subject of his wit, I am very much at his service – with my sword – whenever he has leisure.”
Just FYI, Reepicheep is awesome.
Until next time…